Sunderland surgery could close due to lack of permanent GPs and staffing shortages
The future of a Sunderland surgery is in doubt with health chiefs admitting it may close due to the lack of permanent GPs and other staffing shortages.
Despite efforts over the last five years to recruit GPs to Pennywell, Monument Surgeries has continued to experience difficulties.
In addition, a practice nurse has only been available two days a week, leaving services vulnerable and resulting in patients affected by both quality and appointment availability.
As a result, health chiefs are looking at the long-term sustainability of the branch and admit it may close.
Around 2,700 patients are currently registered at Monument Surgeries in Pennywell and all are being contacted directly for their views and feedback on how they might be affected by any service changes before any final decisions are made.
Dr Emily Hadaway, Head of GP Clinical Services at Sunderland GP Alliance who hold the contract for the practice, said: “In recent years it has been increasingly difficult for us to keep services going in Pennywell and our prime concern is always the wellbeing of our patients and making sure they have equal access to the highest quality of care.
“It is important that we are open and honest with people about the staffing challenges we face on a daily basis. We simply cannot ignore these and feel services in Pennywell are now simply not sustainable in the long-term despite tremendous efforts over many years to attract and retain staff.
“Like everyone working in primary care, we want to build resilient GP services which meet the highest possible standards for the people we serve. We know in Pennywell that the quality of service is not what we want for our patients and so we need to make a change.”
Dr Neil O’Brien, a GP and CCG Accountable Officer added: “The workforce pressures at Monument Surgeries in Pennywell are significant and we have heard very clearly the concerns raised by Sunderland GP Alliance about the future sustainability of services.
“Over the coming eight weeks we would encourage patients and stakeholders to give their views to aid decision making about the future of primary care services in the area.
"Given the extensive work done so far by Sunderland GP Alliance and the benefits of already being part of the City’s GP Alliance network, there is clearly no magic bullet to fix the workforce challenges being faced.
“The priority now is making sure there are open and honest conversations with patients and stakeholders about what this might mean for the future.”
The consultation will run from Monday, October 4 to Friday, November 26, and decision is expected at NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group’s Primary Care Commissioning Committee meeting in early 2022.
Click here for full details of the consultation and how to get involved.